How to Identify VW Engine Size by Block Number

Updated November 21, 2016

Volkswagen engines were first developed in Germany by Ferdinand Porsche during the 1930s. The Volkswagen Beetle would later become the most popular car in the world, partially because Volkswagen's air-cooled engines were reliable and easily swapped with other Volkswagen vehicles, regardless of model. Volkswagen engines included the 1192, 1285, 1548, 1679, 1285 and the 1493 cubic-centimetre models. However, Volkswagen rounded the engine sizes up, so a 1548 cubic centimetre engine is called a Volkswagen 1600. Identification of the Volkswagen engine can by accomplished by locating the engine casting number on the engine block.

Locate the engine casting number. According to Bustopia, the engine casting number is located below the generator stand, which is mounted to the top of the engine. The generator stand is in the centre between the two valve covers. The number is usually one or two letters, followed by a set of numbers, " U1000011," for example.

Write down the casting number. Be sure the number is easily read before recording it. This may require cleaning the area with a wire brush and cleaning solvent to properly read the engine number.

Decode the Volkswagen engine number. The letters at the beginning of the engine code are the engine size identifiers, with the following numbers being production numbers. The example, " U1000011," decodes as a 1965 1584 cubic-centimetre engine, when referenced to the listing found on Bustopia. Both Bustopia and the Samba's VW engine letters page have VW casting number listings.


Volkswagen engines were sometimes bored to a larger size, increasing the displacement of the engine. This may be an issue, because the engine's displacement will no longer match the engine code. In this case, the only true way to determine engine size is to measure the bore and stroke.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • Cleaning solvent
bibliography-icon icon for annotation tool Cite this Article

About the Author

A native of New Haven, Conn., Floyd Drake III began writing in 1984. His work has appeared in the "New Haven Register," Medford's "Mail-Tribune" and the "Ashland Daily Tidings." Drake studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University. After working as a reporter in Oregon, he is now based back home in New Haven.